About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Pilgrim, writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married to an incredible man, have a spectacular stepdaughter, dog and cat.

The journey

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photo Tom Kiefer

Today’s Gospel reminded me of the now well documented photographs of objects confiscated from those who have been apprehended at the border, El sueño americano by Tom Kiefer. For those with any doubt, this has been verified. The rosaries received a lot of attention, but all of the items truly struck me, including the copies of El Nuevo Testamento that was so important to have. There were also the other items, the everyday things like combs, toothpaste, and so forth, as well as items from children.

As if it were not enough that we took away rosaries and New Testaments, now we take their children too. I can’t help but wonder what God thinks of all of this. Ultimately what we have really stolen from people is what little hope and dignity they had left after fleeing lives of extraordinary poverty, extreme and violence, lives with no future. If we stole their dignity and their hope, then I think we are really in trouble.

Right now I am thinking of the martyred apostles sent forth by Christ, unwelcome, considered unwanted and dangerous. To this day, many are killed bringing the light of Christ to others in dangerous places. We all know we cannot take anything on that final journey home to God whether we are an apostle or a beggar, a prophet or a king. In the Kingdom we arrive with only ourselves. Our hope for the Kingdom is for our dignity and integrity to be fully restored in the presence of God. Don’t you think that kind of reconciliation and restoration, at least to some extent, is what God asks of us here? This is our journey in Christ, to go out into the world as beacons of hope and light in his name, disciples always bearing the light of that same Jesus Christ who welcomed, healed, and saved all.

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We must hope, we must act

e6853ca75a8d9a974982737f90230aa3During times like these, I cannot help but think of Bl. Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran archbishop gunned down as he celebrated the Eucharist. Romero will be formally recognized as a saint on October 14, 2018. A tweet from Tobias Winright, Ph.D. prompted me to look for this particular scene from the film Romero, starring Raul Julia as the Salvadoran archbishop gunned down while celebrating the Eucharist. (I will add that you will see a representation of assassination in the video, be advised.)

In his last passionate homily on March 23, 1980 Romero said:

“I would like to make an appeal in a special way to the men of the army, to the police, to those in the barracks. Brothers, you are part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. And before an order to kill that a man may give, the law of God must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, the dignity of the person, cannot remain silent before such abomination. We want the government to take seriously that reforms are worth nothing when they come about stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuously, I beg you, I ask you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!”

On March 24, 1980 he was gunned down as he consecrated the Eucharist.

We cannot remain silent before abomination, and we must at some point choose to follow God before all else. We must also, if we heard today’s Gospel, choose to love our enemies. Romero fought for justice, with hope for peace – which would include loving those very enemies that we fight. May the Blessed Romero intercede for us as we discern and make our choices for present justice and future hope. We cannot wonder who the next Romero is, we must be our own next Romero, whatever the cost.

It is very biblical

From artist Ben Wildflower – here is his Etsy page Ben Wildflower

Here are some things that are very biblical as I understand the Bible…

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Luke 1:46-55

That’s it for today. Pray for a better world, and then take on the actions to bring forth that world. It is hard, it is scary, it is intimidating, but it is necessary.

See and be the light

1200x630-We-Are-Called-To-Be-The-Light-In-A-Very-Dark-World-1080x630Today began like many others. Despite thinking that I should not look at the news so early in the day, I look anyway. It has been years since I have looked to cable news for anything; that is far too upsetting a landscape, one meant to incite and upset more than inform. That leaves me with national newspapers, many of the sort that people refer to as “fake news.”

Today I – wisely or unwisely – read an article about the prime minister of an Eastern European nation. It seems prudent to leave his name out of this post, but you can read it here.  Calling this an article is incorrect, it falls more closely into opinion or, as it is described by the paper, perspective. Yet, certain facts remain, this person is someone steeped in the kind of nationalism that points me over and over again to a certain Anne Lamott quote. (She claims the words were said to her by a Jesuit priest friend Tom Weston, SJ, but it seems that Anne gets the credit.)  So often, those who Continue reading

Sunflower time

Cizur_Menor-sunflowers-chanceprojects.jpgI’m still here, just not *here* specifically. My inspiration to write has been a bit off lately, I start posts, but I don’t finish them. I have a couple of things I need to submit, one of them a paid assignment – they are not flowing with ease either. Is it writers’s block or just a time when the field is fallow? I’d say the latter. That’s why I titled the post “Sunflower time,” because sunflowers are often planted in fields that are fallow!

Other things are happening, none of them bad, but all of them things that direct my attention elsewhere. I am left aghast each day as I watch the news roll by, and each new day brings revelations more astonishing than the day before. It is really too much, a near-constant assault, so I have also tried to spend some time doing actual work for a better tomorrow.

That’s all, I’m sure I will be back, just not sure when! May you all be well!

Embodying peace in a time of war

imagesPeace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. -John 14:27

Last night I fell asleep plagued with thoughts and worry about the air strikes on Syria. They were launched, apparently in conjunction with England and France. I felt ill as I drifted off, but somehow I did sleep. When I awakened I was temporarily free from worry as I stumbled about in the kitchen making coffee. When it was brewed I wandered off to my prayer corner in the living room and began to read a daily devotional. Only then Continue reading

Honoring King, in black and white

Hobbs-Lorraine-Motel-Martin-Luther-KingFifty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and today we have a national holiday; but we have less respect for one another than ever as a nation.

A great deal of white America loves to talk about black-on-black crime, but somehow never uses that term for other crime.

A great deal of white America loves to say that they see everyone as equal, until a black family moves in nearby. Do you feel that way with your other ethnic neighbors?

A great deal of white America loves to say that this is a land of opportunity, and that you just have to work hard enough. Sounds good, but Continue reading